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Genus Eriocaulon Family Eriocaulaceae

Description: Small herbs.

Inflorescence not exceeding imbricate bracts. Male flowers with outer tepals inserted at base of floral axis; outer tepals free or fused; inner tepals inserted above on floral axis, reduced and 2- or 3-toothed, or 2 or 3 hyaline tepals, usually with small dark gland on inner surface; stamens usually twice the number of inner tepals; anthers often black. Female flowers with perianth absent or outer tepals 2 or 3, inserted at base of floral axis; inner tepals inserted above on floral axis, 2 or 3, usually erect, hyaline, sometimes with small gland on inner surface; ovary with simple style branches.

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 400 species, mostly tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: 33 species (native), all mainland States.

Leach (2017) highlights the distinctive sculpturing of the seed coats as a useful feature.

Text by B.J. Conn (1993); edited KL Wilson (Sept 2021)
Taxon concept: Leach (2017) in Telopea 20: 205-259.

 Key to the species 
1Female flowers with perianth absent and so ovary appearing to be distinctly shortly pedicellateEriocaulon australasicum
Female flowers with 2 or 3 outer tepals and 3 inner tepals; ovary sessile2
2Leaves more than 20 cm long; inflorescence on scape 33–100 cm longEriocaulon australe
Leaves to c. 8 cm long; inflorescence on scape mostly 1–12 cm long (to 30 cm in E. scariosum)
                       Back to 1
3Involucral bracts thickened, rigid, not reflexed at maturity; seeds more or less smooth at maturity with epidermal cell outlines scarcely visibleEriocaulon carsonii
Involucral bracts slender, flexible, reflexed at maturity; seeds with surface pattern obvious at maturity
                       Back to 2
4Floral bracts with white hairs; epidermal cells of seeds more or less isodiametricEriocaulon scariosum
Floral bracts glabrous; epidermal cells of seeds transversely elongated
                       Back to 3
Eriocaulon nanum

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